Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Creating a Catholic Home

I am nearly finished with these posts from the archives . . .


One of the primary assumptions of the Church with regard to the education of children is that the primary responsibility for teaching a child rests upon the shoulders of his or her parents.  This is a call that is found repeated throughout the Church’s magisterial documents regarding youth and catechesis.  In our own culture, this call can seem a bit frightening because we are all so used to expecting education to occur within the confines of a school building.  Math teachers will show my kids how to do algebra, English teachers will hopefully make them literate, and religious education teachers will make them Catholic.  The fundamental flaw with such an assumption, however, resides in the fact that unlike literacy or algebra, Catholicism is not accomplished simply by amassing a body of knowledge which can then be regurgitated at will.  Catholicism, rather, is a way of life, and, to be acquired, it must be practiced from infancy onward.

One must admit that there are certain things a Catholic should know.  He or she should be able to recite the Ten Commandments.  He or she should know the seven sacraments, and have a basic understanding of the importance and effects of each.  One should be able to describe the precepts of the Church and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These are things which can and should be discussed in a religious education classroom.  Each of these lists, however, is meaningless if they do not find practical application in a home.  What is the point of knowing that we are commanded to keep holy the Sabbath if my family has a pattern of skipping Mass to go to the lake over the summer, or if Dad habitually skips Mass to go hunting with his buddies?  Of what value is knowing that the Church says we need to go to confession at least once each year if it has been twelve years since Mom received that sacrament?

The long and the short of it is simply that to accomplish a Catholic education, parents must shoulder the load.  They must be the primary examples of how one lives the faith, and they must be willing to become something of an expert in matters of the faith so that they are able to answer their children’s questions and to parent from a Catholic perspective.  This, in turn, requires that each parent believes as an individual, that there is something distinctly important about being Catholic.  It likewise means discovering how and why a Catholic family is different than any other family on the block.  

Unfortunately, parents often look at a task such as this, and, overwhelmed already, decide that a mediocre introduction to Catholicism is better than none at all.  Perhaps with all of the other business of life, they ask, “How am I to devote myself creating and raising a Catholic family?”  It seems sufficient to suggest that our own growth in holiness and commitment to becoming an ever more faithful Catholic is the first step.  Go to Mass every Sunday without fail, go to confession regularly, and learn how to pray every day (prayer is more than just asking God for things, after all.)  These three things will begin to make a world of difference.  These three things will begin to transform any family into a truly Catholic family.        


  1. I would like your permission to use this in our parish bulletin (I'm the parish secretary in Creston B.C.)


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